A Weekend Yoga Retreat in North Wales

The sun certainly shone down on us this weekend for our yoga retreat with Bodywork Pilates.  Our home for two nights was the Loreto convent in Llandudno, a rambling building dating back to the 1920s, ideal for a group getaway.


We had a good selection of classes to choose from, including some Pilates sessions too.


My personal favourite is yin yang yoga which focuses on holding postures for a few minutes at a time (yin) and then moves to a more dynamic practice (yang).


In between classes there was time to get out into the fresh air and explore the town.  If you have never been to Llandudno, it has a real Edwardian feel to it and is a beautifully kept Welsh seaside town.  With all the Black Friday madness that was going on in the world, it was great to switch off with the papers and a cuppa before heading back to our cosy retreat.


The reason I do yoga is that it gives you a good mind/body workout and having a weekend to relax and get into the flow was perfect.  It was a great opportunity to meet and chat with some amazing women, to listen to their stories, and to bond over a shared interest.

Helen, who owns Bodywork Pilates, is also an ambassador for Tropic skincare and I took the opportunity to try out some of their organic and wonderfully scented skincare products which I had taken with me for the weekend.  I used the skin revive moisturiser during the day and the organic elixir facial oil at night.  I always use an oil at bedtime but this is particularly important when I’ve been out bracing the elements!  Both moisturiser and oil are soothing and gentle on the skin.

The smoothing cleanser is very like another of my favourites, Liz Earle, and provides a welcome blast of eucalyptus to your morning routine.  The toner is again, very gentle and lightly scented.

My favourite product was the face smooth brightening polish which gently exfoliates without leaving you looking pink!


Overall, it has been a very relaxing weekend and I’m ready to face Christmas now!



A Healthy Start To January

I’m not doing New Year resolutions this year, but I am making a few healthy tweaks here and there, with the intent to build them, brick by brick into a better lifestyle.


One week in and this is how I’ve done:

  • I bought The Times on Saturday then sat and read it properly, with a cuppa and no TV in the background and no multi-tasking.  Intention: to relax without gadgets.
  • I snacked on Medjool dates instead of chocolate. Intention: healthier snacking and trying new foods, inspired by Ella Woodward.
  • I tweaked my blog, my Facebook page and my Twitter name.  Intention: to be a better blogger, inspired by A Cornish Mum @stevie_couch
  • I practised yoga at home every day (on top of my usual yoga class). Intention: to deepen my practice.
  • I did a NIA class.  This is a mix of dance, yoga and martial arts which I have not done in about 12 months.  Intention: to switch up my aerobic routine.
  • I used my new phone to record choir practice.  Intention: to learn my words before it becomes critical.
  • I ate sitting at the table, with no TV or magazine.  Intention: to give my food my full attention, inspired my Amelia Freer.
  • I Kondoed my sock drawer, my t-shirts, my workout gear and my linen cupboard.  Very satisfying.  Inspired by an article in the Times about Marie Kondo, the newest ‘thing’ which to you and me is otherwise known as tidying. Intention: to create order and calm.
  • I swapped at least one cup of tea per day for green tea, and ordered green tea instead of cappuccino after my dance class.
  • I drank no alcohol.  Intention: Don’t need it, so why have empty calories?

Not a bad start.  How’s everyone else doing?

Living Like Elle Macpherson

A few years ago I read an article in a magazine about a journalist who was given an assignment to live like Elle Macpherson for a month – including eating like Elle, exercising like Elle and enjoying countless beauty treatments.  I don’t know why, but this idea stuck with me and I thought I wonder what it would be like to get into ‘Elle’ mode and would it make me healthier,  more glamorous and more hip.

DSCF1827 crop

Well for starters, I’m only 5ft 2 and a bit chubbier than I’d like, so that part of being an Amazonian supermodel obviously isn’t going to work for me, but then looks aren’t everything are they, so what else could I do?  Let’s take this step by step.

In the gym this week I decided to channel Elle, so joyfully working out at Zumba, exuding a Zen like aura during yoga and carefree jogging on the treadmill (in the absence of a sandy beach you understand).

Next, the kitchen.  Now as you know, I have a new cold press juicer, so this is absolutely what Elle would have – fresh juices every day.  I’ve also had lots of fish and vegetables.  So far so good.

What about glamour? What would Elle wear?  I think my silver office flats and combat pants do the trick nicely teamed with an oversized boho bag.  I can tick that box then.  Very hip.

Shopping.  Does Elle go to the supermarket?  Maybe not, but I floated round Sainsbury’s picking up coconut oil, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit and a very expensive piece of fish.  I did gulp when the man on the fish counter said £9.29 but, Elle would buy good quality fish wouldn’t she?

Next beauty treatments.  The best I can hope for here is a hairdo (booked!) and some DIY aromatherapy.  I’m sure Elle would approve.

So does this work as a strategy for health, fitness and glamour? No idea, but I had fun doing it!

Clean Eating Week Four My Resource Pack

Well four weeks in and six pounds down.  I had hoped for better, but went off the rails a bit last week.  However, onwards and upwards! Six pounds kept off means I’m only a couple of pounds away from being a healthy weight for my height.  I bought a size 12 summer dress in M&S last week and it fits, so that’s progress.

I thought I’d share my resources and tell you what I’ve managed to stick with.

Firstly, a big thanks to Helen Conway from Bodywork Pilates in Chester who has been a motivating earworm for the last 28 days.  Granted, the KSFL plan was too tough for me, but I’ve still learned a lot.

Next, I’ve been reading Amelia Freer’s Eat Nourish Glow and she looks so positively healthy, who wouldn’t be motivated to eat clean.


Finally, all of my favourite mags, Red, GH and Delicious are covering real food, so I have so many lovely recipe options to choose from.


Oh and of course, not forgetting my lovely yoga and Zumba teachers Jo, Luos and Jacqui at Old Hall Country Club plus lots of long walks in the countryside!

The biggest change which I’ve positively embraced is learning to love vegetables.  Never before have I eaten such a variety of greens.  I’d always seen them as an add on to the protein and potato, pasta, bread, rice or whatever.  Now I see the veg as the meal and the protein as the add on.

Next big change is the microwave – it’s gone! I no longer have or need one.

Thirdly, puds.  Now, I love a pudding, but always felt I had to top off my meal with a pud every night, even if it was just a yoghurt.  Well, yoghurt has gone.  Once or twice a week I have almonds and blueberries for afters.

Let’s see what more progress I can make.  And sorry Helen, I’ll never give up porridge!


Eating Clean Week Two Progress

Week two, another pound down (six pounds in total) so I’m very pleased, especially considering this fortnight has included a hen party and a wedding, with two indulgent overnight hotel stays.

Seabass with roasted veg
Seabass with roasted veg

I’m not going to say I’ve been cheating, but I have obviously adapted the KSFL plan to my lifestyle and going forward this is how I want my weight loss plan to continue:

  • I’m loving the variety of vegetables I’m eating and this is a keeper.
  • I aim to try a new vegetable dish each week.
  • Cooking from scratch? Love it.
  • Sugar – well, I’m not giving up honey, but happy to say goodbye to processed sugars.
  • Potatoes? Don’t miss ’em.
  • Bread? Surprisingly not missed it.
  • Porridge, seeds and nuts – no way am I cutting these out.  I love them.
  • Dairy.  A bit of a compromise here.  The only milk I want is with my morning (decaff) PG Tips – happy for all other drinks to be milk free.  Don’t miss cheese or cream.
  • Chocolate? Green and Black’s 85% will appear on my menu.
  • Alcohol? A couple of drinks a week as per usual will feature.  White or red wine and the occasional cognac.
  • Puddings, cakes, biscuits? Haven’t missed them.
  • Fruit – in week two, craving sweetness I’ve eaten strawberries and blueberries.  Fruit is coming back on the menu.
  • Holland & Barrett is my new friend – finding lots of foodie things there to experiment with.
  • Fish is appearing much more frequently on the menu.
  • I’m reading lots of clean eating blogs for inspiration.

I accept that this will slow my weight loss, but I’m actually now only two pounds away from being in the ‘normal’ weight category for my height.  As for exercise, I’ll continue with yoga, Zumba, Pilates, swimming and walking, but running and HIIT has to go as I’ve had to come to terms with my heart related limitations.  Palpitations and strenuous exercise don’t mix.

Let’s see what next week brings!

My Inner Hippie

In celebration of 1st March, I’m introducing you to my inner hippie, who definitely comes out to play in the lighter months.


My inner hippie:

  1. Has wild curly hair, freckles and pale skin. She does not tan and hides under an umbrella when the sun comes out!
  2. Gardens in a scruffy but comfortable manner.  She works on the ‘pull a few weeds as you go past’ school of management and doesn’t kill any living thing (even those red lily beetles which she is supposed to pick off, but can’t quite bring herself to do it).
  3. Reads lots of books, especially about plants, potions and healthy stuff.
  4. Loves wildlife and goes on the odd bird watching expedition.
  5. Holidays in places where nature is at its best, but is not averse to a city break if there are shops involved.
  6. Is crazy about charity shops and cannot walk past one without making a cheeky purchase.
  7. Likes to try out her Spanish & French conversation skills on holiday and doesn’t care if she looks stupid.
  8. Would spend all day in a kaftan and no knickers is she could get away with it.
  9. Likes to have her toes in sand, or on grass and her hands in mud and soil.
  10. Sings like no-one is listening.
  11. Performs the odd yoga move
  12. Enjoys a rock concert from time to time
  13. Cooks a bit erratically, but makes a good curry
  14. Occasionally reads Tarot and Goddess cards
  15. Understands the secrets of aromatherapy
  16. Rocks leather now and then
  17. Wears Birkenstocks in the summer
  18. Has a penchant for sparkly, floaty stuff: especially harem pants, long skirts, scarves and jewelled slippers!
  19. Secretly likes to think she is a Welsh goddess
  20. Blogs as Flowerpowerlife